A Fusion of Decorative Mending Styles

One of my favourite pairs of jeans I've had for 14 or 15 years. When they first started to develop holes in the knees, you can bet I was going to look at repairing them before that hole turned into a split which ran all the way across the front panel, as they do if you continue to wear them without repairing. I didn't want to just sew an unappealing patch there, so I decided to try and design something that would tie in with the patterns and embroidery which already existed on the back and around the pockets.

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The original patterning

I decided to cut the patches into a pattern similar to the shape in the middle of the back waistband, with a little creative license in order to get a bit more width. I had some cheap, foam children's sandals at the time which were falling apart sooner than I'd have liked, so I tried to salvage what I could from them and the unpicked thread was what I used to attach one of the patches, the pinkish edged one. I don't recall what I dug out for the other one.

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I forgot to take a photo before my recent mending, but they were originally just plain patches.

I got a couple more years of wear out of them before they started to thin and threaten holes around the edges of these patches. Holes also developed at the top of the thighs.

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They were put aside for scrap until recently, when I decided it was worth trying further repair. I was hoping for a quick fix by expanding via embroidery around the current patches to match the original embroidery on the back pockets and using this to attach reinforcing patching from the back. I then added some more shaped patches over the holes developing at the thighs.

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These patches were taken from the bottom hem of some old jeans. I like to try and utilise as much of the old fabric as possible and I thought the worn fold line make an interesting feature.

Unfortunately, the jeans were reaching that stage of wearing where they were starting to give in multiple places, so I only wore them a few more times before they were in need of further repair. By this point it was going to start looking messy if I carried on trying to patch and embroider in the way I had been doing up until now. I realised that the sashiko mending style was really the only way to continue and keep it from looking like I was walking around in a patchwork quilt (not really my style).

I wanted a pattern to cover a large area quickly and look like it was in the background of the work already done. I searched for leaf patterns and came across some swirls which looked a little like wind patterns. It was easy enough to improvise a bit and tailor to suit, plus I could draw the pattern freehand as I went. I decided on white embroidery, so it wouldn't take over and would support rather than clash with the current work. I also had plenty of it in the form the threads used for sealing chicken feed bags, in addition to a huge spool of embroidery thread that had been given away in the local Buy Nothing Group.

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I had some large patches of denim from some jeans where the zipper had broken and were a little on the small side anyway. Okay, I admit it, I put on weight and bust the zip trying to squeeze into them. This was easier in one way to work with than multiple smaller patches, but I had to be extra careful to pin it in place well before hand, or it would move while I was sewing and get scrunched up and denim ridges aren't comfortable to wear. On the plus side, I didn't have to worry too much about having enough stitching close together to keep all the edges in place, like I would have if using multiple smaller patches. So I could cover a large area faster.

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It was so much quicker that I forgot to taste more progress shots.

As always, I used a biro for marking out the pattern. It usually washes out after a couple of washes, although it's still looking fairly strong after the first one, this time. I wanted to add a bit more of the yellow and red flowers and leaves, but I ran out of yellow. Something to add at a later point, maybe, if I come into possession of any more.

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Many thanks to @izzydawn for the last three photos.

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You are so creative and great with this mending! These really do look like an exclusive designer pair of jeans! I love the techniques you use.

So glad you are sharing this with us!!! Definitely a nice motivation to upcycling our jeans.

I've been having fun doing them. Don't know why I've never thought of it before. At the moment I keep having to go back to ones I thought I'd fixed earlier, so it will be even more fun to come up with something new.

We're having fun watching! 🤩

Wow - what an intense labor of love. As a mom of Miss 16 who prefers things ripped, distressed and with gaping holes, I have discovered that the act of patching things dates us. LOL. But in your case in the most creative of ways.

Amazing work!

My girls don't do distressed. They ask me to stitch up their holes. I wonder if it's down to what's in style around them. Distressed hasn't been in for a while.

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What magical awesome jeans! I love them. My fave jeans i had were levi's i had from 16. By 45, I couldn't wear them anymore, coz you know, middle aged spread lol. But I got great guns out of those jeans, and I had sewn butterflies and all sorts of things on them for fun. I wish I hadn't thrown them! and I used to love wearing boyfriends levi's back in the day. Great job! Very creative.

I used to love my 501s, but didn't really know much about repairing back then. Not entirely sure I could have squeezed into them after two kids, anyway. The fit changed over the years, so I stopped buying them, plus we were always broke once the kids arrived. I got new clothes once a year for my birthday from my mum and they were from the market, usually. Cheap and cheerful. That's where these jeans came from.

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Oh you repaired them, they look like those designer “pre-ripped” “pre-faded” jeans that are sold for very expensive at designer shops 😜

The decorative mending looks really cool!

Us poor people are such trend setters. All the rich want to be like us. 🤣

Thank you. Even my mum liked these ones for the bright colours. Don't often get an out of the blue exclamation of appreciation from her.

I think a lot of rich people have lost a lot of these basic skills because it's not worth their time when they can pay someone else to fix things or more likely just buy new ones. I figure this because we're not that poor and there's a lot of practical things we don't know how to do 😅

Even the not so rich are often working so much they don't have the time. Although they probably have to buy the cheap jeans without the premade holes and wear the holes in the old fashioned way. Maybe that's why they're so expensive. Time is money. 😆

Great way to recycle these pants, you can be sure that it's a unique piece. Maybe if you make the design in pencil the line can go faster with the wash 😅.

Unfortunately, when I make the line in pencil it goes so fast it's gone before I can finish sewing! 😆

Ahhh, that explains all 😅.

These are so marvelous! You could probably sell them on etsy now--but they are so pretty you will want to keep them, of course.

Thank you. 💚

The button is getting loose on them now, so I may need to replace that soon. Another excuse to keep them! 😁

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Beautiful jeans! Even more awesome to me because I hate sewing by hand ;)

I love sewing by hand. I'm actually less fond of using the sewing machine. I don't mind it when everything is working how I want it, but hate it when it isn't. I hate having to unpick. With hand stitching you usually realise it's gone wrong soon on and there are only a few stiches to unpick, but with the machine it's lots. Also, I can sit with the family and sew by hand, but I'm on my own in the back room if I'm machine sewing.

I do like the speed of it when I'm making things, though.